Farewell without a farewell 

Professor Diethard Tautz retires in a not entirely restful retirement

August 01, 2023

Diethard Tautz is Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön (MPI). After a total of 47 years in science, he is now officially retiring. However, he will remain with the MPI for the next few years as an emeritus member.

The Gerhard Hess Prize (1990), the Karl von Frisch Medal (2016), the Federal Cross of Merit (2021) and, above all, the development of the genetic fingerprint, are all just a few but important points in Diethard Tautz's scientific career. Since 2007, Professor Tautz has been a scientific member of the Max Planck Society and Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the MPI in Plön. 17 years in which he not only advanced his own research, but also played a major role in shaping the new orientation of the Institute. At the beginning of his career, there were just two departments at the Institute, whereas now there are three and the establishment of a fourth is imminent. At that time, the integration of his department into the existing institute meant not only a considerable expansion of the building infrastructure but also the development of specialised facilities, including a genomics platform. 

Diethard Tautz also played an important role in building closer ties with the CAU, including a joint graduate programme (IMPRS). Meanwhile, more than 30 of his former colleagues have gone on to scientific careers at universities and research institutes worldwide.

In a ceremony, Professor Tautz was now bid farewell to his retirement by his colleagues on the MPI's Directorate, Arne Traulsen and Paul B. Rainey. "It has always been an honour for Arne Traulsen and me personally to work together with Diethard Tautz on the Directorate of our MPI over the past years. His many valuable contributions will continue to shape the Institute in the future," says Prof. Paul B. Rainey, Executive Director at the MPI. But retirement does not mean that Professor Tautz will no longer be active. "I will remain scientifically active, only the organisational day-to-day business will now largely fall away. I have always started something new in my career - I also see retirement more as a new beginning."

One of Diethard Tautz's great concerns has always been to present his research results to a broad public. In addition to his research work, he has also commented on current social debates, such as the alleged danger of foreign infiltration or the number of phenotypical genders. He has also held editorial positions in a wide variety of scientific journals and even co-founded some of them. In retirement, he remains responsible for editing the scientific publications of the National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina.

Diethard Tautz studied biology in Frankfurt am Main and Tübingen from 1976 to 1981, where he received his doctorate in 1983. His further path led him via Heidelberg, Cambridge (UK), Tübingen, Munich and Cologne to Plön. He will spend his retirement in Plön.

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